Thursday, August 28, 2008


(pic by tim walker - very inspirational photographer)

so. i got the fever. started yesterday.
i lie flat on my back under 2 blankets, 1 velvet throw and 1 (dare i say it) tree hyrax rug (53 pelts...) at midday. and i'm still cold.
i want to stand permanently under a hot hot shower.
i want to lie flat on the hot stones in the courtyard, face down, under the sun.
i am so cold.

the fever broke briefly last night.
the sheets were soaked.

it can't be malaria. it feels like malaria.

but as sal says, what about all the workers at the mosquito net factory who hale from tabora, lake victoria , tanga? all that needs to happen is for the wind to blow one teeny little mean anopheles mosquito, who has just had a fresh munch from a tanga leg which has malaria up our way - into the pink house on the hill and then nibble my ankle as i sit and blog to you all and bingo. well quite but still. chances of that happening are? she also mentioned a story about a man in london, who had never been out of england, who caught a taxi with an escaped anopheles mosquito buzzing about (must have escaped from someones bag returning from africa or india or wherever) - cold and hungry (the mosquito that is - far from home). and the man got malaria. not to make anyone panic or anything like that, you understand.

so if this fever persists i shall go for a blood test tommorrow.
i really don't want to. its horrible.
you stand in queues and queues of sick africans. there is nothing comforting or gentle about it except dr sheriff's eyes, once you finally make it into his room.

the laboratory is in the same grimy grubby place where i went for a scan when i was pregnant for the unbelievably third time. i saw the somali gynaecologist. who wanted to know why i had come for a scan.

me: well. to RE confirm that i really really really am pregnant, sans doubte, kabisa, 100%.

somlia doc:(looking ever so slightly perplexed) well. when was your last period?
me: um you know, i can't quite remember....?

he looked so taken aback that i didn't dare ask if this could possibly be an immaculate conception because i couldn't remember having any sex either?
i was pregnant. and not immaculately either.

am sure i already wrote about that. you see? fever does that to you...

right. back to bed. shivers descend. but first kitchen board.

Kitchen Board: Thursday (really really?) the 28th August 16:00hrs

Contributors: Janelle. Niamh. Gabby. and Bella (one of the puppies)
Comments: Niamh is our neighbour and she broke her arm while playing at our house. i, of course, told her she was perfectly alright and nothing was the matter and please stop crying mummy is coming home now and can you wriggle your fingers? you see? nothing wrong. now darling please stop crying how did you do this? what? you heard a "crack"? now don't be silly...blah blah blah. poor darling. she fell off the sawdust bags at the stables and really cracked her arm. 8 more sleeps apparently and the cast comes off. behind the girls is The List. ploughing on preparing for back to school time..lunch boxes, juice flasks...oh oh oh boring old school and routine....its a killer.

ok. panadol really is wearing off. sweat has run out and fever takes its grip...indeed. feel sorry feel sorry feel sorry for me..because i feel VERY sorry for myself...

toodely fevery pip and all that...bisous xx janelle xx

Sunday, August 24, 2008

swiftly moving on .... my most inspirational evening ever and a responsive universe.

the gloom and doom of my previous post has been bothering me. still. it had to be said. and looked in the eye. anyway, done. for now. and thanks for bearing with it.

because of recent events I have felt blusey this week. ish. only ever so ish. and whined on to my spaghetti thin riding buddy tati, that i didn't ask a lot out of life, but oh how i loved to meet inspiring people. people who light my fire. people to celebrate. people who can dead impress me. not a lot to ask for. i am easily impressed. ask my kids. and not counting pilots and doctors this time round. and definitely excluding my children. who are simply, Everything To Me.

well. whoosh. the universe cast her juju, and one lightening strike later, i find myself pootling into town, in seven o clock traffic in down town mbauda, to join my dear dear friend jules to meet her brother, the only member of her family i have not met. not to bang on about traffic jams, and other worldly inconveniences like that, i must insist, the traffic was diabolical and i felt entirely discombobulated ( i LOVE that word.)by the time i reached the curry restaurant. bicycles weaving their way in the haze of black soot and dust and hooting and daladalas darting back and forth, my headlights star gazing and i can't see an effing thing. my night vision is appalling.

eventually i walked into the warm red light of the curry restaurant, my night vision permanently damaged from being blinded by everyones bright beams, and looking not too dissimilar to a giant eagle owl after being thoroughly viewed by a spotlight. there julie presided over a table of men. who all stood as i approached the table. daunting really. as i am shaking everyones hand i notice one of the gentlemen is blind. completely. his name is john. as our bowls of tikka masalas and rice and naans crowded the table, we exchanged pleasantries like :

me: and so what do you do john?

john: (humbly, head to the side, listening): oh. um. i'm an amateur scientist.

me: about to follow up, with interest when someone cuts the conversation short (i know! dead rude i say) and says - are you still swimming competitively?

john: yes yes (quietly) um i like to keep it up. actually i have just completed an open water race, 50kms in the Hudson.

me: starting to gape.

rude interrupting person: but weren't you in the paralympics in barcelona?

john: (quietly and almost uneasily, yet with grace.) yes yes. i was.

another rude interrupting person: and did you win anything?

john: in fact yes. 8 golds and 2 silvers

me: slack jawed gaping.

first rude interrupting person: and how many races were you in?

john: er, ten.
me: face in chicken tikka masala.

and the following morning he was beginning the climb up kilimanjaro. i mean. how lucky was i to meet this most incredible person? who appeared so humble, yet had overcome huge obstacles to achieve such athletic greatness. it was a large and hearty kick up me old jacksy.

i got home and googled him. it got even Better! see below:

Former UCI Swimmer John Morgan Elected to U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame
Morgan won 13 gold, 2 silver medals at 1984 and 1992 Paralympic Games
May 14, 2008
IRVINE, Calif. - Former UC Irvine swimmer John Morgan has been elected to the US Olympic Hall of Fame.
John Morgan won 10 medals at the 1992 Paralympic Games in Barcelona. In Barcelona, Morgan set six world records and two Paralympic records. He won a total of 13 gold medals and two silver medals between the 1992 Games and the 1984 Games in Los Angeles.
Morgan, who is blind, set 14 world records in his swimming career, including five in the B2 classification and nine in the B1 classification. He currently holds nine world records in the International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA), eight International Paralympic Committee (IPC) world records and eight Paralympic records.
Morgan was named UCI's Most Inspirational swimmer in both 1986 and 1987. He represented the Anteaters at the PCAA (Big West) Championships.
Morgan will be inducted to the Hall of Fame June 19th at the Harris Theater in Chicago. The 2008 Hall of Fame class consists of John Morgan, volleyball player Karch Kiraly, wrestler Bruce Baumgartner, runner Joan Benoit, figure skater Brian Boitano, boxer Oscar de La Hoya, equestrian J. Michael Plumb, basketball player David Robinson, swimmer Amy Van Dyken, shooter Lones W. Wigger Jr., figure skating coach Carlo Fassi, figure skater Carol Heiss Jenkins, special contributor Frank Marshall and the 1996 Women's Gymnastics team (Amanda Borden, Amy Chow, Dominique Dawes, Shannon Miller, Dominique Moceanu, Jaycie Phelps and Kerri Strug).The ceremony will air on NBC Saturday, July 5, 2008 at 11:00 a.m. PDT.

I went to bed with a full, glowing warm blooded extremely grateful heart and my faith in a responsive universe, well in tact.

And if that wasn't inspiring enough: meet lorenzo the flying frenchman, if you haven't already.

I Love Lorenzo. I Love Lorenzo.

enough of all my tweety bird stuff...and onto more manly things like The Kitchen Board.

Kitchen Board: Sunday Evening: 24 August 2008
Contributors: Veronica, Janelle, Rubin, Daniel and Gabriella.
Comments: Three Of The Most Inspirational People You Will Ever Meet. and quite possibly three of the most beautiful people you will ever meet. not being biased or anything.

toodely pip and bisous xx janelle xx wishing oodles of inspiration upon you all.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

broken iron and shattered glass....

you know, there's a lot i can take out africa. where i've lived my entire life. droughts floods death shortages no power wars street kids witchcraft man eating lions malaria imbalances between the rich and the poor. the whole scabby lot. but one thing that scares me, that can scare the hell out of me if i allow it to , is the dark. the night. robbers who come stealthily, hiding in the shadows, walking by the light of the moon. pangas gleaming silver and silent. pistols held carelessly by desperate stoned bandits. shiftas. jambazis. robbers. murderers. and the dogs barking into the wind. into the night.

i lie and talk quietly to my mind at night - making it see the sweetness of the full moon framed in my loft distract it from the silent footfalls through the acacias outside, under a deadly moon. to distract it from plans. ok . will run and get the kids, run back up. switch on alarm. distract it from images of blood on walls and the taste of fear, like metal, in the back of my throat.

i read dostoevsky until two in the morning. or deepak choppra's Grow Younger Live Longer bollox. what a load of poppycock. perfect to fall asleep to. to deaden the mind.

a borrel of cab sav does the trick too - i become really brave and have images of me with our inherited rigby shotgun, standing like joan of arc upstairs in my room, my children safely behind me, victoriously blowing away mother fucker robbers as they arrive in their jambazi (baddies in swahili) hordes into the office below.

these images are short lived.

the fear of the dark is something that has always been with me since a child. growing up in 1970's zambia - where things were rather wild, wooley and hooliganic. what with the war for the liberation of zimbabwe going on, and a large zanu pf freedom fighter camp at the bottom of the garden...... cairo road was filled with hectic jimmi hendrix wannabes - afros, platformed shoes, bell bottoms, booga mina booga wena sunglasses (funagalore -a language from the mines - for see me see you glasses - aviators with the reflective lenses - or elton john styled ones), and lots of illegal ivory being sold on the streets - carved into trinkets, necklaces and bangles.( i still have a few. i tell anyone who asks, that its false. unless i am in the mood to be otherwise.) and lots of AK 47's and bank robberies and dead whiteys and their dead dogs and their stolen cars. security was definitely an issue.

i remember my father walking out into very thick starry nights, night jars twittering amongst the brachystegia, standing under the mulberry trees and shooting his elephant guns " to scare the robbers". i overhear my mother saying "ron. someones been watching the house all week. sitting in the tree on the corner." and such things. i remember coming home from a friends house, who convinced my mother to stay the night, not to go home alone with the kid (my sisters were at boarding school) because "you know how things are now dorothy..." walking into my bedroom the next morning, the windows smashed into my bed with a brick. glittering menacingly in the white nine o clock morning light falling through the empty window. all of my mothers clothes are stolen. all of her shoes. everything. mega mega robbery but " thank god we're ok. thank god we weren't at home," i hear her on the phone.

into lusaka we race, in her datsun sports car, sucking peppermints - to margos, the only boutique in town. small and fashionable. my mother spends all the money. well nearly all of it and is so pleased with her purchases. to replace all the stolen clothes. we stop at the hardware for putty and glass to fix the windows and when we get back to the car, the windows are smashed in and all her new clothes and shoes are gone. gone. i remember her crying under the hot eleven o clock zambian sun. head down. and i looked down and saw her white sandals all orange from the orange earth, and her toes dirty and orange and simple. surrounded by broken glass. little bluey green nuggets twinkling in the orange dirt. and me feeling so bad. so sad and so scared. of the dark.

this week, the wild mountain wind blew in "baayad thangs" down in the valley below. my friend. alone with her kids. hears the dogs barking. it's nearly full moon and only eleven o clock. she gets up. throws on a shirt and thinks "damnit, where's the askari? why doesn't he shut the dogs up?"

suddenly someone is standing outside on the verandah, with a torch saying "open the door mama. it is your askari." she quickly notices the man is too tall. too nervous and suddenly realizes, in the pit of her stomache, what is happening.

she runs down the passage. barefoot and fleet. to hide her kids. she presses the alarm and throws on a kikoi (east african wrap) and lies on the bed. she hears the door getting smashed open. bent grotesquely with a tyre wrench- glass splintered, shattered everywhere. she hears the siren scream and sees the torchlight flashing down the passage towards her and her children. she hears her heart in her ears. main lining adrenalin.

MOTHER FUCKER! MALAYA (whore in swahili)! three men explode into her room, in the dark, shouting, screaming, high on adrenalin and ganja, armed with pangas, stinking of fear in the room.

she jumps up, "samahani samahani tafadali...iko watoto..." please please there are children. please." trying to be calm.

so they make her switch off the alarm. the neighbours call to see if it was a false alarm. she can;t answer the phone because there are three men, with pangas, in her bedroom. they rob her. they shout at her. they do not rape her. they do not harm her children. thank god. thank god.

so fucking scary. so terrifying. so bloody unacceptable. but we decide it must not affect us in a bad way. oh no. oh no. because this is home. we play rummikub in the bedroom over a glass of chilled white wine, to clean the space, to make it what it was before.

not funny this time. oh no. everyone on the ngorobobs are off to a security meeting this evening. i have another askari. and we sleep with one ear awake and the iron gates locked. and we are not afraid. no. oh no. i refuse to be afraid. fear is the most destructive emotion on the entire planet.

when i started boarding school, in "rhodesia" as it was then known, i listened to all my friends (and lots of the grownups too) talking of gooks and terrs and realized (slowly i shall have to confess!?) that these were the same people camped out below our garden back at home. once, at lunch at the Presidents house (yes, indeed, The President of Rhodesia's House - the Honorable President Clifford du Pont - who committed suicide i think - and happened to be my best friend's uncle hence the situation of a small 6 year old zambian (enemy territory) sitting at the presidents sumptious sunday lunches) i remember being in awe. silent awe. little. and knowing, with great seriousness, that i shouln't let the side down, let the H P C du Pont know that I am zambian...that's enemy territory. for sure. so there i sat, in my sunday pinafore, chasing green, sweet fresh minted peas around my porcelain presidential plate, and buttering my melba toast and wondering, with great frustration, why presidents insisted on such crunchy breaky toast at sunday lunches?

and then he said, The Honorable President Clifford Du Pont, " And So Janelle. Where Are You From?" in deep deep royal rhodesian colonial bastard english.

righto. ruse over. i am sunk. stow away has been discovered. jail and torture ahead.

i swallowed hard, thought of the huge freedom fighter camp below our garden, knowing they were the enemy, knowing that there were lots of them, and squeaked " from zambia," staring hard at my shattered melba toast.

i thought there was a slight pause, as he raised his eyebrows and said " armenell tells me you are a keen horserider? your favourite horse being Bombay? well then. i think it's time we went and explored the stable yard, don't you? check up on the race horses...."

and off we strolled over manicured lawns, past clipped hedges and immaculate rose gardens with running streams and little bridges, down to the oak lined stable yard. all those sepia coloured sundays years ago...

and that was that. i was free to go. the rhodesians eventually bombed the camp, towards the end of the war, a few years later, in an operation called Operation Zambezi. fortunately we had just moved from the house but apparently the garden was filled with shells and every window was broken. shattered.

cheeky buggers, the rhodesians. they flew in below the radar, ordered the lusaka control tower to ground all planes. " no problem bwana" responded the tower. afterwhich they roared over lusaka, raining down their bombs intended for joshua nkoma.

and those freedom fighters below our garden....

Kitchen Board: Tuesday 19 August 2008.

Contributors: Veronica & Janelle

Comments: pass. what can i say? another hideous shopping list. and proudly completed today. hooah. toodely pip and all that. xxx janelle

Monday, August 11, 2008

blisters from my birkkies and other inane tales.

these things are not supposed to happen. i shall sue the bastards. i thought birkenstocks were the most healthiest shoes on the entire planet. so how come i got blisters then?

maybe my feet are simply too sinful for them.

my car is home. smooth. faultless. and alive. oh joy. what a magnificent machine, i say.

miranda and i were stopped by the police this morning on our way home, in My Car. the cracked bloody windscreen all over again. yawn yawn. miranda frantically telling me to smile smile smile...she knows how i can be.

(note: the below conversation was all in swahili until the end)

police: cracked window. got to fine you. (both heads stuck through mo's window and me smiling like a mental person)

me; (smiling some more and looking prettily helpless like we allegedly and unconsciously - OF COURSE - train ourselves to do ... i rather think it's cunningly contrived, the helplessness thingy) um oh yes indeed officer, it is. um. cracked. clearly. ahem.

police: well. how did that happen?

me: oh you know those big blue trucks, loaded with stones?? well one stone fell off the truck and hit my, near coffee lodge. late one evening. excuse me officer? the police report? oh dear. yes yes lost of course. (ssssssssssmiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiling away)

police: when did this accident happen?

me: oh um about, um, eergh...

police: a few years ago? hah hah. you are so busted and we are going to fine the hell out of you.

me and mo: righto then. yes yes of course. on our way to ikwans anyway so no problem we can pop into the police station en route. (mo grappling around with the lock on the back door smiling all the time) what a fabulous idea hooray... ( really really smiling a LOT now with teddy bears picnic music playing in the background)

oh blah blah blah..they let us go with a warning, us smiling like two escapees from the looney bin, smiling insanely until our cheeks hurt, whilst they gargled on in swahili about something pertaining to presents in a chinese restaurant and milk? LOTS of milk? our swahili fortunately failed us in the translation. it was beginning to sound, well, sordid.

had a boozy sunday christening yesterday. i felt so honored as was asked to sing a song during the ceremony. i chose angel from Montgomery (a john prine song, my favourite version sung by bonnie rait) which is a song close to my heart. and i think one of hope yet cuttingly real. of course i was as nervous as a pig on the way to the abattoir. for two reasons: i worried that the cowboy song wasn;t entirely appropriate and also, obviously, that i wasn't up to the task of singing solo in front of people i know, mostly. i alleviated this with the odd swig from a mini tequila bottle hidden amongst the christening gift, my new little elegant handbag and my one and only lipstick. my voice wobbled emotionally about quite a lot. first born said it was ok but a bit embarrassing when i closed my eyes and sort of threw myself about in a rolling stones fashion, near the alter. rubbish.
i was particularly proud of little natalia who, unlike her sweet brother, adamantly refused to be anointed. she squirmed about in her father's arms saying " i won't i won't i won't!" anointed she was not to be, short of tying her down, which would have been really embarrassing and not to say, unequivocally unfair.
after the ceremony, i proceeded to get pleasantly and entirely drunk. yesterday was a lazy sunny sunday of blessings, good friends and most excellent champagne, wine, food and inspiring conversations about which i have vague recollections. apart from the one about chocolate brown underwear. it was particularly unforgettable. or forgettable, if you were me.

obviously fashionably underweared person recently returned from america and latest victoria secret shops: " know, there are so many unusual designs and COLOURS out there now... you know, not your usual tan and black.." while i quickly tucked away my rude black bra strap and widened my eyes in solemn interest

me; " or flaming red..." uncomfortable pause, " oh."

never knowing when to go home i continued, "well everytime i have worn my flaming red bra i have had an outrageously good time.. . . oooergh, sorry um, what were you saying?"

keep up, janelle, keep up. godsakes.

anyway. chucked out that old bra years ago....

where are my birkkies?

Kitchen Board: Monday Evening: 11 AUGUST 2008.(actually this was taken last night. its more interesting. tonight's is blank and kind of pointless)

Contributors: Veronica, the illustrious Ms Natasha Illum Berg and one Daniel Doria

Comments: you know, they just can't take me and my blogging seriously. . .

toodely pip and xxx bisous xxx janelle

Friday, August 8, 2008

"sweet suburban sky..."

nairobi skyline by buzz 2008

so had all this stuff planned today..and guess what? it's nane nane. (pronounced naaneh naaneh - translated literally as eight eight: 08:08. eighth of august and imagine? eight minutes past eight on the eighth of the eight month in the year 2008 - auspicious or what??) - a public holiday in tanzania. in case you were wondering. have no idea why. so bang went The Banking. The Shopping. Collecting The Car from The Fundis (yes!~ the car is re-wired and back on The Road- allegedly apparently and all that..the car which had the steering wheel leant up on the front seat and which no longer had a dashboard as we know it, the car which should have gone up in a ball of flames along with me and the kids...yes. the very one. i spoke with Koga, the fundi (expert) this morning and i shall collect her on monday - CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? no doubt i shall document the occasion. watch this space. hah.)

(in passing, we also have saba saba - which translates literally as seven seven (7th of july) which is also a public holiday in tanzania...again. have no idea why.)

so instead of crossing off things on The List - we went to visit Lieve, our dear vet (blogged about when sirrocco the horse cut himself) and there were four little "poppies" - dear dear little scraps of staffiecrossgodknowswhat. ended up taking two home. TWO. named nyota (star in swahili) and bella. they are wrapped up in baby blankets behind the kitchen tonight with grand old pasha being Guardian Dog. sheltered from cold mountain winds and such. gabby (last born and emotionally linked to all animals) is beside herself with responsibility and keeps going on about it being a dog world up here. no shit. and please can they sleep inside and blah. have just put her to bed in tears crying for the "poppies". please please let them be there in the morning or else i am fucked. nevertheless. i stuck to my guns. i told her, emphatically:

(guardian dog pasha)




i found out that it was nane nane when i went into town and realized everything was shut. including the bank and the only two bank machines in town. bummer.

but everything was not lost. i had an interesting conversation with first born. i learnt, as we pootled through town in the landrover,( dodging the Mad Man at the pedestrian crossing who, i noted with amusement, was pretending to be a policeman, bossing and harassing all pedestrians) with fascination, that daniel, first born, thinks nairobi is The Best City Ever.

Because:(according to daniel, 11yrs, born and brought up in the middle of bloody no-where)

- there are neat clipped hedges in the suburbs ( obviously referring to karen - he hasn't been exposed to kiberu slums. yet)

- of the smell (???)

- of the cold mornings

- he loves the sound of a million dogs barking in the morning ( ???)

- of The Junction (a shopping center with movies and excellent book and toy shops)

- and apparently, they (?) finish buildings in nairobi. (admittedly there are many unfinished buildings in arusha)

of course, he does not know about the armed robberies, the rape, street kids throwing human shit on your windscreen when you don't give them money when you're stuck in the traffic jams. i won't mention these things. not yet, anyway. let the kid dream. of sweet suburbia. i did. along with fizz pops, lawns with no thorns and fat ponies lounging in lush green fields under apple trees.

so the second born says " why don't we have moja moja (one one) mbili mbili (two two) tatu tatu (three three) etc etc as public holidays too?" man. i don't know....???

it was also the second born who said, as we drove for literally miles and miles passed the world's grandest wildlife spectacle ever - the Migration ( over one million wildebeest and zebra on the trot across the serengeti's short grass plains)

"boring boring boring. all you see are wildebeest, wildebeest and wildebeest....where are the kudu?"


at least he wasn't his sister (little and about three) who only saw the door handle because no-one thought to lift her to window height the entire journey.

Kitchen Board: Friday Night: NANE NANE: 08 AUGUST 2008

Contributors: Veronica and Miranda.

Comments: sing it like it is, i say. hah.

ps: love flumaxes me. sometimes. . .

oh. whoops. nearly forgot. xx bisous xx and toodely etc etc j

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"picture this. . . "

my horse, rhino.

picture this: me: at the chemist, casually lurking at the counter waiting to be served a tube of ecodax for the excema on my finger. next to me, one old swahili man. asking about vitamens. vitamen c - whether to buy effervescents or chewables. spectacles parked fashionably on an attractive long and crooked nose. so i strongly recommended (over the rather introverted mumblings of the chemist sales lady) the effervescents, as one does. one a day, i smartly say, and be careful, all your children and grandchildren will want one too because they make fizzy drinks. so get two tubes then, i wanted to say.

and while you're on them, i continue, garlic keeps the flu away too. raw garlic. yes indeed. one clove a day. with your lunch. blah.

the chemist owner - or the one who lurks at the back mixing the drugs, raises his very heavy hindu eyebrows in my direction.

i then glance aside and see a lady with "corn removers". hmmm. interesting. so i ask her why she is buying them (the nerve of it! gasp gasp in retrospect). she kindly (and clearly politely) tells me that her daughter has a verucca (sp??) oh, i say. in durban, i continue, as one does, there was an indian lady who would suck the verucca straight out the foot with a straw after soaking the foot in hot water for a long time...just like that...suck suck and plop. nice eh? out it came. all clean. . .

eyebrows from the back, where drugs are mixed, audibly rustling. Chemist man, blanching.

it's in my nature to talk to the public. in line. at the post office. at the chemist. at the bank. like the time when i helped a maasai man early one morning at the bank machine. clearly he had no idea how the whole operation worked as he fumbled around not knowing which buttons to press, which way to insert his card. (like me in a london tube station and everyone was sighing behind me...oh, the panic it instilled, the wobbly fingers on the keyboard...they don't understand..) oh flipping hell. we have lives to lead for godsake . higher voice: practise compassion. practise compassion... so i offered my help in my very bad swahili.

now then. let me help you. put it in this way. you see? numbers facing upwards? then wait.. now. what's your um . . .

secret number? . . .

9758 (if only he knew)

i punched it in and the machine promptly ate his card. gone. there and then. try and explain that one to an old maasai man in bad swahili...i felt sooooo bad. anyway. boo hiss. can't be helped. things to do, people to see. pole sana and good bye.

and by the way Val, of monkeys on the roof fame (should be monkeys on MY roof, by the way) went on another hack this evening. just fucking BEAUTIFUL. through mr popadopalis's flower farm - where someone (er, um maybe mrs g in an art lesson) took a giant paint brush and splattered the hillside in hues of orange, yellow and green and made an enormous blue mountain towering over the lot of us...left me humble and gracious and um, boyuant (sp?? floaty??).

picture this: kids in the shower this evening. hot tap in shower sheers off. completely. off. water spews uncontrollably out of a nasty and ugly sheered shaft from the wall. there is no going back. remember? we live on top of waterless and manless hill. fuck. and it's 8 at night and the last 10 000 liters are spewing out like some bloody fountain in the middle of paris or london or somewhere with lots of water. what does one do? one leaves riding buddy (tiny little skinny tati) leaned up against tap making frantic phone call to marc next door to come and save us while i shout at children. and it's his last night before he too disappears ON BLOODY SAFARI. i swear. tommorrow there shall be stalwart brass taps installed no matter the cost. fuck it.

and my sons worry that i shall "break up" with their father because there i was mumbling about "cheapness of the chinese taps and such things" and "where the bloody hell are all the men" and " and if you're going to bloody well buggar off at least make sure the effing plumbing works...i mean )(#$*(*&#$*(%^&*$^%&*^!!!! AND blah.

i say to them of course i won't, sillies. and kiss their gorgeous sun kissed cheeks...while danu pops the first born says oh mama i wish i could help you more...Oh My God. so i tuck them up and wish them golden dreams and feel my heart full to bursting to breaking. sillies. sillies.

on a seriously lighter and entirely victorious note: miranda of has her new motorbike! totally totally groovy and MANY brownie points for the sister hood. indeed. she and her guru famous artist mum pamu came to visit for tea and chocolate cake this afternoon after collecting the motorbike. pamu in landrover and miranda on sexy bike. or rather sexy miranda on bike. the place where they collected the bike from is about fifteen minutes drive away. it took them 2 hours to get here through the karonga (oh god. look it up in a swahili dictionary - a donga, a bloody great big ditch caused by erosion from poor people..oh BLAH) . i am not going to go into any details here. jesus. bloody unbelievable. (the directionless, the aimlessness) ANYHOW, swifly moving on. great excitement to see mo and her bike roaring up the ngorobobs!

hooah. . . . . (marc the plumbing saviour's house in background)

Kitchen Board: Wednesday 6th August 200 and bloody 8: (4 years off the end of the world according to mayan calenders and the state of the bee - apparently)

Contributors: Veronica (back from leave) and allegedly miranda (the gas illustration bit)

Comments: pass. (it's a fart coming out of a bum - not a double ewe and a hand alerting us to something, like i thought...)

toodely pip and bisous comme toujours xxxx janelle

Monday, August 4, 2008

staying connected: the flip side.

danu p and mary. zambia. '96.

i thought i would be able to just sit and stare at a blank white wall for three days, now that everyone's gone. including safari craig. but no. this mind of mine keeps thinking and babbling on and on and fretting. shhhhh i say. just shhhh for godsake.

but it won't. instead it says, my god. look what has become of the world. look! read! look! plastic. plastic everywhere. they speak of plastic soups in our oceans. literally every square kilometer of our oceans the world over, has plastic in it. someone studied the contents of an albatross's stomache and found plastic toys, plastic bits and bobs mixed in with the mackerel who no doubt were also stuffed with Pacific Ocean Plastic. to my joy and delight i introduce you to Junkraft blog. (had a link here but had to delete: when followed lead me to something weird...research ongoing!? ok people, it insists this is it: i paste and copy hereforth:
which i discovered last night. two enterprising scientists are, as i tip tap type (on my plastic key board), floating across the sea from California to Hawaii (crossing many plastic soups swirling about in the Pacific Gyre) to urgently bring Plastic Pollution to the people of the world's attention. they are floating about on a boat ish - which floats on 15 000 plastic bottles. the sails and ropes are made of plastic rubbish. i learnt from marcus, the main scientist, that 10 000 pounds of plastic are thrown to the sea from Los Angeles alone in a day. the production of plastic water bottles for USA consumption takes 1.5 million barrels of oil a year...that much energy could power 250 000 homes for a year....don't you LOVE stats??? AND apparently japanese mothers are warned against breast feeding their babies in japan because of polluted meals. fresh fish which have survived on a diet of plastic sea thingys... toxic food. which leads me to the next big thing - cancer. cancer cancer everywhere. why? a spiritual sickness no doubt, due to dislocation from reality and the stress produced from this. living surrounded by concrete, cement, automatic everything, plastic food in plastic dishes being shoved into plastic faces with plastic noses, lips and plastic teeth. and this bizarre paranoia about health and living longer and "making it" yet we spew all this plastic into our rivers and oceans....the last greatest wilderness left on our planet.. and into our bodies oh oh oh! mind be quiet!! and i haven't even begun on the state of the bee....dying mysteriously - great hives of them....imagine the world with no pollination? NO HONEY?

so when our children (wearing their plastic shoes while playing with their plastic toys) ask "but what is honey?" we can tell them about The Bee. Who Used To Be. (hah) like when jemima was about four and asked who made honey and we told her The Bees. she thought about it quietly for a minute or two before saying, "oh and do flies make marmite?"

dislocated. to avoid it, stay connected to The Real World of The Earth. Coca Cola is it. The Real Thing. Bastards! but whew - love the stuff. especially during a bout of malaria. nothing quite like a cold coke. but i digress.

stay connected. to the real earth. avoid dislocation.

well. walk barefeet everyday on bare earth, or lawn, or on cold river pebbles or warm sandy paths and crunchy white beaches. give your feet the earth and your toes some mud. feel a thorn in the softness of your arch or the dry prickly grass scratching. the sharpness of a stone against your heel. when you walk, look around you, not down. re-teach yourself natural balance. walking bare foot on naturally uneven surfaces. cross a river on stones, walk across a log in a park with your arms out, looking up to the sky. (jeez. not sure i could do that either...) well. at least try. it teaches the body balance and fills the eyes with natural light. walk in the dark with no torch (flashlight) and teach your eyes night vision. look at the stars and feel your way in the dark. step by step. take a risk. and don't be afraid of the night, of the darkness.
we have got to try and stay rooted to the earth before its really really too late. before we turn into pale unbalanced plastic blobs.
how much can one earth take?

flip. enough said.

so yesterday mwali the syce and i rode out to the hill with one tree on the top. we rode to the summit and saw the maasai steppes flung far below, clouds' shadows racing across the plains. we rode through villages - the children singing " kitikaa kitikaa kitikaa kifaru!", the sound of african angel singing spilling from a tiny mud church, next to a sign in the middle of no-where saying " jesus blessed this shamba". oh? really? good god. next time please tell him to pop up my way for a cup of tea. mwali found this very funny. thankfully. and the sun on our backs, cowbells drifting on the wind and dust devils spiralling skywards. my heart felt full. i was where i wanted to be at that very moment. no-where else. it was perfect. perfect.

safari craig left today. with his new plastic phone which has a special plastic card which can connect to his email so he can be connected to the world. and to me. from the middle of no where. and i can email him back on my plastic computer and stay connected.

sigh sigh. flip.

Kitchen Board: Monday 4 August 2008:

Contributors: Janelle and divine guru famous artist friend Pamu.
Comments: quite. quite. and um. say no to plastic. i want a wooden keyboard. and a steel mouse.

toodely pip...and bisous comme j